Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, the El Paso County Courthouse has had to close their doors to things like jury trials. The courthouse went to Zoom hearings and online filing of legal documents to keep the wheels of justice turning in El Paso. Unfortunately, crime didn't stop in El Paso but jury trials did. There is a huge backlog of criminal trials that haven't been allowed to go forward because the courthouse couldn't accommodate a jury trial. That could be changing but you still might get called for jury duty.

There are a limited number of jury trials happening at the courthouse and that means some of us will be getting those envelopes in the mail from the courthouse calling us to jury duty, and yes, you do need to show up. You might also get a jury duty summons in the mail for a trial via Zoom. The best thing to do is carefully and thoroughly read your jury summons. It will have information about whether you are being summoned for an in-person, in-courthouse jury or being summoned for Zoom jury duty.

Patricia Martinez
Patricia Martinez

As with any jury duty summons, there are acceptable reasons for why you can't serve on a jury. Because we are in the time of COVID, there are new rules in place so read your summons to find out if you qualify. There will be more criminal jury trials at the courthouse in the future. They are already having mock trials in order to figure out how to best seat a jury for a criminal case. And yes, there are consequences for ignoring a jury summons. Those details are outlined in your summons, so if you get a jury summons, handle it. Either try to get out of it or make sure you show up where you're supposed to be.

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